Although most hotels are happy to accommodate gay and lesbian guests, few actively promoted themselves to that sector, twenty years ago. Superbreak, one of Britain’s biggest tour operators, seized on this in 2000 when it bought operator Rainbow Holidays and relaunched it to promote hotels to the gay and lesbian sector.
In the early noughties, Superbreak Mini Holidays went through a period of huge growth and development. From being one of a number of short break tour operators in the 90’s, Superbreak became virtually the only one left by 2008. Customers went from 65,000 to 1.8 million.
“Everyone was talking about the pink pound, so I decided to do some research,” says Ray Jones, brand development director for Rainbow Holidays. “I am married with two children and it was a whole new world to me.”
Although there were a number of gay holiday companies, few promoted accommodation, and Jones soon found a huge market of hotels that wanted a slice of the action. Rainbow, which works on a 30% margin, approached all the mainstream hotels that were already with Superbreak and signed 250 of them up in the first week.
Being the official accommodation agent for events such as EuroPride in Manchester and the London Mardi Gras and being listed in the London Tourist Board’s Gay & Lesbian London Guide, Rainbow has helped hotel groups such as Jarvis, Holiday Inn, Golden Tulip and Novotel tap into a new market sector.
On Superbreak’s own website, when searching for “gay”, you will only find Sitges being listed as “gay-friendly”, and a hotel in Paris in the Rue Gay Lussac. “LGBT” gives 11 results, none of which have any further reference to anything gay+.